Tougher-to-Abuse Form of OxyContin Approved

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TUESDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- A reformulated version of the often-abused painkiller OxyContin has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency said in a news release.

OxyContin contains the powerful opioid oxycodone. Since it's designed to be released slowly over 24 hours, each tablet contains "a large quantity" of the drug, allowing users to take fewer tablets less often, the agency said. The new formulation is designed to prevent tablets from being cut, broken, chewed or dissolved.

About 500,000 people used OxyContin for non-medical reasons for the first time in 2008, the FDA said, citing statistics from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The drug's manufacturer, Connecticut-based Purdue Pharma, is required as a condition of approval to study whether the new formulation reduces abuse.

-- Scott Roberts

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